After a photo surfaced showing her as a much lighter-skinned and straight-haired woman, Swedish Instagram model Emma Hallberg has spoken out about the issue, denying that she ever tried to pass for black to gain more followers.
In her response, the 19-year-old social media influencer stated that she tans easily and that the side-by-side photo that has been making rounds on Twitter shows two photos of her taken in two different seasons, People magazine is reporting.
Hallberg issued her response via direct message on social media, a screenshot of which has been shared on Twitter.
“Yes I’m white and I’ve never claimed to be anything else. And by no way, there are no ‘before’ pictures, the pictures that has been spread are just two diefferent [sic] pictures taken on two different seasons of the year,” she wrote in her response, shared by People.
Hallberg has a popular Instagram page on which she shares photos of herself sporting different outfits, makeup, and accessories, many times as advertisements, meaning she likely profits off of her social media presence. On her Instagram photos, Hallberg generally appears tanned and curly haired, both of which have sparked criticism after the “before” photo began circulating.
White girls if you want to pass as Black, how about using your platforms to address the injustices and discrimation actual Black people face. Don't just appropriate, Appreciate the people you are imitating #emmahallberg pic.twitter.com/gpmkvB0BZj
— Niccole Nero Gaines (@2CsNiccole) November 19, 2018
“I honestly thought Emma hallberg was half black,” one user tweeted after seeing the photo, while another tweeted, “This Swedish White girl is guilty of ‘Blackfishing’, a term used to describe someone who masquerades as a Blk person to deceive others. By extreme tanning, dark makeup & braids, this fraud is exposed!”
Following the backlash, Hallberg issued a response on her Instagram story titled “Let me explain.” She shares photos of her father and brother, showing that they, too, tan easily. In addition, she shares a clip of her mother’s hair, which is naturally dark and curly. She also says that the “before” photo that has gone viral was taken before the summer when she was wearing no makeup and had her hair straightened. She does admit to wearing slightly darker foundation but explained that she does it so that her face matches the rest of her body.
Ever since the side-by-side photo went viral, her Instagram page has been filled with criticism and other comments that Hallberg has called threatening and hateful.
“I do not get my sponsorships, work opportunities and collaborations because of the color of my skin,” she writes in the story. “I get it because of the way I style my clothes and create my makeup looks.”